Tag Archives: RIAA

Anti-Piracy Advocate Compares Piracy to Homophobia

And I’ll bet he’s a PIRATE, too!

Timothy Geigner at TechDirt spotted a guest post by filmmaker David Newhoff on the blog The Copyright Alliance that displays before your very eyes the disconnect between file sharing advocates and opponents.

Amazingly, Newhoff treads into the waters of a civil rights issue (gay marriage) and somehow wants to make comparisons with piracy, an issue of economics and artistic expression.

The craftiest of gay-marriage opponents will argue that legalizing these unions infringes on their rights to be Christian in America, which is tantamount to undermining religious freedom. Yes, anyone with two working brain cells can recognize that this isn’t sound reasoning so much as thinly veiled bigotry. Same-sex marriage can only be a threat to religious freedom if we agree that the zealot’s belief that homosexuality is a sin should implicitly influence our legal definition of marriage. There is no way to cut through this logical Gordian Knot without concluding that all marriage would have to be religious (and ultimately Christian) in order to be legal in the U.S. And that would violate the definition I believe most of us apply to religious freedom.

Similarly, the copyright-threatens-speech proposal uses the illusion of reverse discrimination to suggest that when the producer exercises his copyright, this somehow infringes on the consumer’s desire to reuse or “share” the work as he sees fit, which amounts to a “chilling effect” on speech. Like the same-sex marriage thing, this argument glosses over personal bias to foster a logical leap to a shaky conclusion. Copyright only threatens speech if we agree that the consumer’s right to reuse is more important than the producer’s right to treat his work as property.

Geigner adeptly skewers Newhoff’s perceptions of what the pursuit of happiness in The Declaration of Independence means for copyright holders.

However, as someone openly gay and in favor of file sharing I find Newhoff’s comparisons deeply offensive. The anti-piracy forces of the RIAA, MPAA and others have consistently lied about how much money they lose due to piracy. This perceived loss is due to business decisions the recording and movie industries should have made a long time ago when it became clear that an entire generation of entertainment fans would be downloading files, instead of buying CDs and DVDs, as the main mode of acquiring new music and movies. Studies have shown, however, that those industries are still making profits and, indeed, benefit from piracy. If the mega industries are making profits but cutting productions (where I assume, Mr. Newhoff, you’ll be making most of your money), that’s a business/labor issue, not a rights issue.

Newhoff will have to explain to me how his freedom of speech and pursuit of happiness arguments allowing him to make money from his film productions bear any relevance to being allowed to simply live freely. After the hate talk of Jeff Sangl’s church, Ron Baity and Charles Worley, who’s ready to pull the switch on gays and lesbians, Newhoff’s claims look particularly lame.

Do you seriously think that if I click “share file” that I’m exactly the same as those who would send gays to the Nazi gas chambers, force gay men to be chemically castrated or simply pummel gays to death?

I don’t know where your personal history has taken you, David Newhoff. But mine includes chapters such as death threats made before the very first march for gay rights in Rochester, NY back in 1987. As part of a group helping organize that march, I had to deal with rocks, eggs and other debris thrown at us. People shouted out names. A pick-up truck containing guys wielding baseball bats parked across the street from our starting point. One of those guys wore a shirt with the phrase “I Hate Fags” printed on it. The coup de grace of disgrace was a man who brought his two knee-high children over to scream “Biblical” accusations at us. The children were wide-eyed and terrified. I’ll never forget that traumatic incident of child abuse.

File sharing has no comparison whatsoever to any of this. To even suggest that it does is insulting to anyone who genuinely cares about human freedom.

Lew Ojeda


Why Am I Not Hearing More About Kim Dotcom?

Back in January this year, you could not get near your TV or computer screen without seeing a report like this:

The arrest of Megaupload founder, Kim Dotcom, was the big fish for the US government and the record and film industries, who, after the SOPA/PIPA disaster, needed to show everyone they meant business. The RIAA and MPAA claim that the industry and artists are hurting and this guy was a major cause of it all. Hauled before cameras like a caught drug kingpin, Kim Dotcom previously had an appearance in an anti-piracy video that made him look like the actual living personification of Dr. Evil and Fat Bastard rolled into one.

The details of his capture became a separate news item. Hiding in secret rooms armed with a shotgun, the authorities closed in with the threat of a major stand-off looming. Once apprehended, the Dotcom lavish lifestyle with babes, guns and a mansion with multiple cars came to the fore. Immediately after Megaupload went down, other sites changed drastically or even voluntarily shut down.

Yes, Kim Dotcom was the BFD set up to be the image of piracy evil that continuously eluded those who ran The Pirate Bay (but not for the authorities lack of trying). The stage was set for daily “breaking news” smackdowns of the horrible excesses of Dotcom and how he was destroying entertainment, especially the movie industry.

Well? What the hell happened? I’m waiting.

I’m waiting for the 24 hour coverage that Megaupload contained perhaps millions of legal files placed there by customers who are not pirating and who may lose those files through no fault of their own when the government decides to destroy them. Where’s the extensive coverage of why authorities seized Dotcom’s property with a bogus court order and then tried to correct it after the raid detailing the new order with the items seized?

Mainstream media: has this report showing that piracy over the last ten years actually contributed to higher profits for all media sectors escaped you? If you want to accept Hollywood’s stats as reason to go after pirates, don’t you want to look at a detailed opposing view? And what of Dotcom’s claims that numerous US government officials had files stored in Megaupload along with over 15,000 accounts from the US Military? If these claims are true, does this mean that the government will have to sue itself or haul veterans of two wars into court for copying some movies and music? I would love to be present in the room when industry lawyers try to explain to an Iraq War soldier who had his arm blown off he’s going to be sued for downloading Katy Perry.

Maybe the government has a case against a site that was the 13th highest ranking site on the internet with 50,000,000 visitors daily. Perhaps the feds have one, even if Dotcom was ready to set up a very public IPO with the help and blessing of financial firms.

If they do, you would think they would leak something by now. Kim Dotcom and his new legal team has come up with something embarrassing to the prosecution’s case practically every week. And this doesn’t even include other factors outside the case, such as the RIAA admitting that the industry’s own innovation could stop piracy and Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, telling Hollywood that its anti-piracy efforts are self-defeating.

If Dotcom’s claims are accurate, this is going to be a long legal headache for the government and the FBI. MPAA President Chris Dodd will have to come up with authentic footage of Kim Dotcom eating puppies alive for breakfast or some other such abomination.

I mean, something would have to replace the footage of the FBI raid on the Dotcom mansion that disappeared while in police possession.